Sunday 17th May | Sermon
Love & Obedience
Bible Reading : John 14 : 15 -21
Chapter Fourteen, in the Gospel of John, marks the beginning of what is called the farewell discourses. Jesus is preparing his disciples, for his departure.
So, what does the Saviour say to his disciples that would be relevant to him leaving and them carrying on the work that Jesus started? I’ve noted four points, from our reading. Jesus starts with
• the significance of his commandments
• Jesus is going, but the advocate, the Spirit of Truth is coming and will never leave.
• The world will not understand the Spirit.
• Those who love him will keep his commandments.
Love, Gods Love, the Agape Love, the love that one lays down his life for that of another: can be very difficult to fully explain. As preachers we share the gospel regularly and all is based on God’s love and grace. Everything we do and say, ideally, is centred on God’s love for his creation, for his people. Honestly, I can say that God desires for all of his creation, to return to Him.
It is only in returning to this Agape parental God, that one can gain understanding from the word, know transformation and truly experience the empowerment of the divine, through the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Truth. Jesus alone is the truth.
The commandments: keep the commandments, obey the rule of this house, of this school, of this institution of this workplace. We know that rules are created to keep peace, harmony and unity. The rode code, for example, can you imagine us just driving anywhere, without set rules.
Rules can be set for specific contexts and can be differ in another context.
The commandments that God gave to Moses were for that context and are still applicable today. Many of the laws in Judicial systems were based on some of these commandments. Once again, rules to assist us to live in peace and harmony with each other.
You shall have no other God s before you ….you shall not make for yourself an idol…for I the lord your God am a jealous God …..but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. Ex 20 :2-6. Jesus said, Love the Lord You God with all your heart mind soul and strength and love others as yourself. The message is consistent, though the wording may be slightly different.
Jesus introduces the advocate, the comforter, the Holy Spirit of God for the first time in the gospel of John. Jesus himself and then another, from God above. When the human Jesus leaves, the Spirit will come to replicate him and to be the divine presence in the world until the end.
There is a definite difference between the disciples of Jesus and those who do not believe. The disciples are set apart because they know the Advocate and Jesus Christ.
We can understand that those who do not know the Lord, will find it hard to understand and accept something different.
The followers of Christ, in Johns day, were trying to find their own identity, as different from Judaism, but still working together as God’s people. Similar to our own Parish, with different cultural congregations but still all of us working together because we are united in our belief and faith in Jesus Christ under the banner of Hamilton East Methodist Parish.
Jesus was talking about change, he is leaving and the Spirit will be coming. This would’ve been hard to accept and understand, even though they were God’s people and followers of Jesus Christ.
Today the Holy Spirit or the advocate moves within you and I and as Easter people, living after the resurrection, we need to be one with the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus said to his disciples “receive the Holy Spirit”. How can we in the 21st Century understand the gospel of Jesus Christ if the Holy Spirit of God is not with us? Something is definitely missing.
Knowing, loving and serving Jesus should set us apart from the world. The body of Christ should be set apart from the world. There should be a marked difference in the work that we do for others, those who are marginalised those who are needy, both here and all over the world. It is only through the body of Christ that others will come to know about Jesus, who else can tell the world but you and I, when empowered by the Holy Spirit within us.
So how do people that God created, return to God? It’s about relationship, we must acknowledge what God has done for us. Be open to the Spirit when we pray, read the word share with other believers, then we will follow his commandments. We don’t need to be forced to obey his commandments. We want to/desire to follow his commandments, when we love him, because we are but responding to his agape love first shown to us, through the gift of Jesus Christ. God’s gift of grace and love. It is therefore the Holy Spirit that moves within us, to do the will of God, which is to obey his commandments and be his hands and feet on this earth. Amen
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